B&W Paper Printing for a Beginner

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by clothesontheline, May 18, 2013.

  1. clothesontheline

    clothesontheline Member

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    Hi! I'm Michael and I just been introduced to the world of B&W photo printing, and after hours and hours of research, I am still fairly confused with the whole process. I hope that some of the pros out there can help me with my project.

    My Objective: I am in charge of the photography section during a summer art camp. The kids(around 25 in number) are going to be split up into groups and are going to be involved in making several pinhole cameras. Each group will take one artistic photo with camera(or maybe 2 if the exposure fails) I will then be mainly in charge of getting the photos developed into negatives, and then contact printing several individual negatives into multiple positives for each member of the group to have a copy.

    My proposed process and materials(this is where I need a lot of input):

    *Keep in mind that the darkroom/developing will likely take place only in one day and not continually. ALSO I am on a VERY tight budget for the darkroom and materials; were talking under $40, so frugal ideas are very welcome AND needed.

    1) After constructing several pinhole cameras and collecting materials, I plan on getting the darkroom chemicals and supplies ready to be used. The chemicals can be mixed and placed using the regular room light, without any harmful effects, correct? To mix them, can I use any type of plastic or glass container? Also, are 5x7 "developing trays" necessary for the process or can any type of plastic/metal tray be used? DIY ideas?

    2) Once the darkroom is set up, I will open the RC Paper (is www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/755287-REG/Ilford_1168309_... a good product for my purposes? Is anyone familiar with MultiTone RC paper?) and place it into pinhole cameras under the light of a "safelight". THIS IS WHERE I NEED HELP: because of my tight budget and $20 already being spent on paper, I cant afford to buy an actual amber/red safelight, etc. My first option would be to use a mini Maglite(flashlight) that has dark red attachable filter to it (I think it's original use was for astronomy purposes). It is very dim, so I may have to either attach it to my head or have someone else hold it and shine it directly on the paper/instruments. Is that okay? Option 2: I also have a light green nightlight that is very dim and barely outlines things 4-5 feet away: Would that work better? If I have to, I'm also willing to buy a brighter red LED strip or red CFL.. suggestions?

    3) Once the pinhole cameras are stuffed and the shutters and lids are closed, I plan on taking them outside to be exposed to the scene. When I lift the shutter, is 15-20 seconds a good estimated time of how long to let it expose in bright to semi-bright light, or should I test it before hand to be sure? I will then close the shutter.

    4) When the paper has been exposed, I will take the cameras back to the darkroom. QUESTION: How long can I wait between initially exposing the photos and beginning the process to develop them? Does it matter? With my chemicals prepared and in the trays, I will begin this process: A. take one of the photos out and insert it into the Kodak Dextol developer for 90-120 seconds, agitating the tray continually? At this point do I need to handle the photos with "PHOTO TONGS" or will latex gloves do just fine? (I've seen that some use a water "pre-rinse" for 30 seconds before the developer, helpful?) B. After the developer, I will let the photo drip off and then place it into a stop-bath for 30-45 seconds. I've read that a lot of people just use water, but I think a chemical solution will work best especially because of time. I'd also not like to buy an actual stop bath solution if I can help it so will white distilled vinegar diluted to 2% acid work? C. From there, I will move it to a Kodak Fixer solution, during which I will agitate continually for 5 minutes.. If time is of the essence, can the time be reduced to lets say 3 or 4 minutes? D. I will move it to a final water rinse for about 5 minutes, continually running/replacing water? E. For drying, does letting the prints drip, gently wiped with a paper towel, and hung up with a clothesline sound like a good method?

    5) At this point, my goal is to make several positives from the negative I have just developed. This link: users.rcn.com/stewoody/darkcam2.htm says to put the developed negative emulsion-side down on top of an unexposed sheet of RC paper emulsion side up, and to lay a sheet a glass over the "photo sandwich". Upon completion, flash a 15W white light bulb 3-feet away for a couple of seconds. If the positive turns out correct, develop it using the above mentioned processes. I then plan on enclosing the prints in plastic photo sleeves.

    6) Storage: Because this will most-likely be a one-day thing, do I need to plan on storing the chemicals once I'm through.. if so, do I need special containers? Best way to dispose of them?

    *****NOTE******* : Because I could be potentially developing around 25 photos, is it possible to do multiple prints at once? Any methods? ALSO, how often should I replace the chemicals and which ones?....Because I am being exposed to alot of chemicals and I'm not sure how vented the darkroom will be, should a wear a breathing mask to be safe?

    Any more TIPS and SUGGESTIONS????????

    I REALLY hope that any of you can answer a FEW(just pick some) if not ALL of my questions during this note. It would be most APPRECIATED!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks again!

    -Michael Griffith
     
  2. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Fun project. In one day course for $40 I'd consider photograms. Objects arranged on paper and then turn on the room light for a couple seconds. Definitely darkroom with proper safelight because some kids will want to see everything appear. The ones who are bored can do the arranging and leave the rest to you. But the ones who want to see it can stay in the darkroom with you. Then that original sheet is their finished project.
     
  3. clothesontheline

    clothesontheline Member

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    Hey Bill, Thanks for the suggestion, but the kids will probably not be involved in the developing process at all; probably just shown how everything works in full light. Sorry for the confusion! Hope you can answer some of my ?'s
     
  4. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    The chemicals can be kept in plastic bottles, I use the kind that are similar to what Hydrogen Peroxide comes in. I mix up a gallon and put it in four of the quart sized bottles. Developer you just dump down the drain at the end of a day. The fixer you will responsibly take it back with you to arrange proper disposal. You could use any convenient tray. Plastic is fine.

    The paper is a good choice and price. I'll defer safelight ideas to others who may have some tips such as LED etc. But you will want a good safelight. Or you could work in the dark. Gloves are fine. Distilled vinegar is a great stop bath. 1 cup vinegar to 3 cups water is 5%, that's the concentration I used until I figured the concentrate is "cheaper" in the long run. For you - vinegar is cheaper.

    You could probably develop 5 or 6 sheets at once, much more is a bit of a hassle.
     
  5. mesantacruz

    mesantacruz Subscriber

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    1. yes chemicals are not light sensitive, not for this at least don't worry about it, You will need two receptacles (1 gal clorox containers are fine), a cone (you can use paper)... to pour the chemicals in and shake... doing this the day before would be best. Any size is best... stick with plastic... since you are doing this for a short time... try your dollar store for cheap trays, that you can throw away after using this... (four) the bigger the better, you can process more prints at a time.

    2.That is a good paper for your purpose.... i suggest looking at ebay for a cheap safelight that you can put in your lamp/light socket... LED's might be fine, although they might fog your image (make it have a gray tone overall)... i think for this purpose the LED's might be fine, try to look one in the correct spectrum if not,you'll probably be fine.

    3 unless your buying ready made pinholes.... the difference of the size... even in .0xx mm makes a difference, although a general exposure of 10-30 seconds is fine, testing each one before hand would be best, but time consuming. you can have the kids test one, but it might take to long, although a quick development will be fine.

    4 Developing process

    4 trays... 2 for chemicals, 2 for water. the biggest you can fit.
    latex gloves
    clips/hangers, or somewhere to put prints to dry. lean against a sink wall, etc.


    1. You will place the sheet in dektol, no need for prewash (gloves will do for the whole process). 2-3 minutes, maybe 1.5 per print...
    2. Wash in water for at least 3 min
    3. put in fixer for at least 2 min (no longer for rc)
    4 wash in water for 5 minutes after you put in the last print (dump out at least 3 times)
    5 no need to squeegee they will drip dry quickly enough, you can even dry them outside.

    You don't need archival quality for this, and rc paper washes way faster than fiber paper.

    5... just place your used chemicals in the same bottles from which you mixed them in (1 gal clorox containers mentioned before).


    suggestions

    i suggest you get the kids in 5 groups of 5...

    safelight on

    that means you get the 5 'negatives' and put them in dektol at the same time... but first dunk one in then the other consecutively , (with gloves on of course)... and move them around with your gloves on... then... after 2 minutes... move them over to the water wash (seriously, don't waste time on stop/acid wash)... leave them in for 2 minutes moving them around, again with your glove on.... then, switch them over to the fixer. once out of the fixer, you need to wash them for 5 minutes in water...

    keep your paper in the black bag, and in the box at all times. when you are ready to make the positives. you place the paper under the negative as mentioned, and then expose... then put that in the box, get another paper out of the safebag, and reclose lid... again under the negative, and into the box (not the black bag) close lid, etc say for the five in the group. then take all these five prints, and develop them together, as above. You will have to do this five times (around)... remember to be very careful with your paper, and only use it under the red/safelight.

    good luck.
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Michael:

    Welcome to APUG.

    Looks like a fun project. It would be good if you could do a dry run before hand.

    Where approximately are you? There is a good chance that there is someone nearby from APUG who could lend/give you a functioning safelight.



     
  7. Simonh82

    Simonh82 Member

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    Just to say, I would really recommend getting the kids in the darkroom. A lot of the fun of this type of activity is seeing the photos appear, especially if not everyone's pinhole images will make the cut.

    For this you need a safe light but see if you can get one free/cheap second hand, or as suggested borrow one.

    You will need to do a few tests to find the right exposure at both stages of the process.

    A cheap vinegar stop bath will cut your stop time from 2-3min to 30 seconds. RC paper will drip dry in an hour or two, or a few seconds under a hair dryer if time is really short. This could save a wait after creating the negatives.

    Get larger trays so you can develop several images at a time. Garden seed trays may be a good alternative.

    Strong fixer i.e 1:4 strength will speed up fix and wash times.

    You shouldn't need a breathing mask, I find vinegar stop he most unpleasant smell. Developer and fixer have never bothered me.

    Check your local regulations but most photo chemistry can go down the drain in these small quantities. This is not the case if you are on a septic tank.
     
  8. AgX

    AgX Member

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  9. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Before anything else, read the B&W how-to stuff in the FAQ linked in my signature. Secondly, test all this before doing it with the students - nothing worse than causing disappointment.

    What cameras are we talking about? If they're 35mm, then contact prints will be very small, i.e 24x36mm. If they're large format, what film do you plan to use? With pinhole, reciprocity failure makes a big difference.

    If you're using medium-format pinholes (120 film), definitely use Acros. It's very cheap and has basically no reciprocity failure, so is perfect for pinholes. Another excellent option is Tmax 400 (TMY2); your exposures will be about 4x shorter with this faster film and it doesn't cost much more.

    If you're shooting large format (4x5"), then film costs are going to kill your budget. The cheapest you can buy is Arista (rebranded Fomapan) at about $40 (shipped) for 50 sheets. It will work but has TERRIBLE reciprocity failure, so it makes a bad pinhole film. Acros is stupidly overpriced in large format and TMY2 is merely expensive ($90 for 50 sheets). A 25-pack of HP5 is probably your best option. Films must be developed in COMPLETE DARKNESS, i.e. with no safelight. This is annoying unless you have dedicated hardware.

    You can also do pinholes with paper as the negative. Exposures are much much longer and the contrast can be crazy-high, but it works and it has the clear benefit that you can do the development under safelight, so there is no part of the process that requires total darkness. Look at this thread on LFPF.

    Yep. Old softdrink bottles with prominent warnings on them in permanent marker are the best/easiest/cheapest storage/mixing option. For developing "trays", use 4L icecream containers.

    Your film developing must be done in COMPLETE darkness. Paper can be handled under red safelight.

    Multigrade is excellent paper. If you want something cheaper but perfectly good, look at Arista papers from Freestyle or Kentmere (also made by Harman/Ilford and about 2x as sensitive, therefore better for pinhole).

    Green is not suitable. Cheapest option is a red LED bicycle tail light - you can probably scrounge one or buy it online for $3.

    Depends heavily on the film or paper you use and the pinhole size. You will need to google up a pinhole calculator, measure the light level (the Sunny-16 rule is your friend if you can get full sun, otherwise use a free light meter app on a smartphone). Then test with the specific film or paper you bought - if it has blank bits (empty shadows) then you need more exposure and if it has solid-black areas for the highlights, you need less exposure. You'll probably get both - adjust exposure to get a good result from the areas you care about.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 19, 2013
  10. clothesontheline

    clothesontheline Member

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    Thanks for the help, but I just figured out that I have a photography friend that doesn't use his stuff anymore so I'm going to ask him about it; If that doesn't work, I'll let you guys know!
     
  11. clothesontheline

    clothesontheline Member

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    Can you explain the process for the "dry run"? And dont worry, I realize I should practice b4hand to make the prints turn out right.
     
  12. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I think what our helpful newshound suggested was just that... Give a practice session to at least a couple kids to see how long it takes to do everything... So you can be well prepared to execute your plans when the day comes.

    Your idea is ambitious - and it can be done - but you will work hard and so you must have the routine practiced.

    My earlier idea to do photograms... keep it in the back of your mind. It is one-third as much work and twice as likely to succeed. I do not want to discourage you from the main ambition. You CAN do pinhole paper 5x7 negatives and make contact 5x7 prints for 25 people in one day. Three packs of 25 sheets of paper will give you enough extra to practice and cover mistakes.

    But in an emergency, if things don't work out as planned. Photograms are extremely easy.
     
  13. clothesontheline

    clothesontheline Member

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    To do 5 at once, am I going to need extra large trays, or is it okay if some of the prints overlap/are on top of each other in small trays? Would I move the 5 prints between steps all within a short period(15-20 secs), or put one print in, wait about 30 seconds , and then put another print in, and move to the next step according to how long the prints have been at each step?(sorry if that was confusing)

    You mentioned "the box" while talking about exposing the negatives, what exactly were you referring to?

    -Thanks
     
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  15. clothesontheline

    clothesontheline Member

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    Hey Bill, Thanks for the advice! At this point, I'm not sure how involved the kids will be in the process. They may be involved with constructing the pinhole cameras/placing the photo paper/ exposing it, but I doubt think the kids will actually be doing very much of the work to develop it. They may be shown the process as an example at first, either under a safelight or just with the lights on. Also, I will have extra time to work on the prints outside of the times for camp. I would just hand them out the next day(its a week long deal)

    Since you seem to know your stuff, do you know if it matters how long you wait between exposing the photo paper to light, and when you actually enter the darkroom and begin the process?
     
  16. clothesontheline

    clothesontheline Member

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    Few Answers/Questions:

    1) I Plan on using homemade pinhole cameras, partly constructed by the kids but supervised for excellence. I also will be using large oatmeal boxes and/or other large containers to print on 5x7 paper photo prints.

    2) What do you mean by "Arista" papers? Are they still great quality, or is there a noticeable difference between those and Ilford multigrades?
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    You can wait for a reasonable length of time, but it is best if you are consistent.

    If an hour or two elapses between exposure and developing, the results will be slightly different than if you develop immediately afterwards.

    I have exposed paper during one evening and developed it the next day, but when you do that you lose the advantage of being able to quickly learn from your mistakes and adjusting the exposure accordingly.

    If you aren't going to be sharing the fun of watching the images appear in the trays, you might look around for some developing tubes and a rotary agitator.
     
  18. mesantacruz

    mesantacruz Subscriber

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    The trays don't have to be big, and i wouldn't invest much money in them, if it's a one time thing (remember, you can't use these again to put food in, but maybe for strorage). You should use two hands when you put the prints in. One with a glove to slosh the prints around... which you would put in and submerge with your gloved hand.... once submerged (2-5 seconds).. put the other prints in, it's okay if they overlap for this project, as long as you continue to use your hand to move them around... use your 'ungloved' hand to handle the dry prints.

    as for the 'box'... when you receive the paper... it will come in a box, and in this box the paper will be in a black bag... the bag can have pinholes, and so make sure you keep the paper in the bag, in the box... but while you're in the darkroom, you can use the box, as a quick safety box... so while you make prints from the paper negatives, (one at a time) place your already printed sheets in the box, outside of the bag... this way, when you turn on the light to expose your negative you will have somewhere to hide the already exposed prints.
     
  19. clothesontheline

    clothesontheline Member

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    I'm not sure I know what you mean by "sharing the fun". If I develop the each group's negative print in groups(4-5 a tray) , it might be hard to fit 20 kids in a darkroom and let them see as the photos appear. I may be able to let each group see/and or help as their individual positive copies develop.. is that what you had in mind?

    Also, what are developing tubes and rotary agitators?

    -Thanks!
     
  20. clothesontheline

    clothesontheline Member

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    So, I'm guessing you put move the prints on to the next step according to what order you put them in at first?
     
  21. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    The extra time will help! Will 5 kids work one day/ 5 the next? Or is it more like Photo Day Wednesday and camp's out Friday?

    MattKing says results will vary with time from exposure to development, but that would probably not be a problem if you develop in the evening.

    The "box" people are talking about is the pack the paper comes in with black wrapping inside to keep the paper safe. You want to "keep" the paper safe from accidental exposure, in case someone walks in on you, it's better if there's only a few sheets ruined. If the whole bag gets exposed it would be "pretty bad" especially on a tight budget.

    Arista is a house brand offered by Freestyle a small outfit in Los Angeles which caters to photo educators and often their price is less than the alternative. But I checked your price is pretty good for brand name paper.
     
  22. mesantacruz

    mesantacruz Subscriber

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    yes/no... if you get them all say, within 20 seconds or less of each other, trust me, you can do this, then you can move them all into the water at the same time... let them sit in the dektol for 2.5 minutes, and developing should be the same between them, unnoticeable. when you take them all out, to the water wash, you can do so together. grab them all in one hand... drip them for 10 seconds.
     
  23. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Instructions for Beseler tubes

    Here is a link to the instruction sheet for the Beseler version of the tubes. They were designed for either colour or black and white paper. You load the paper into the tube under safelight, and then go through the development process in room light.

    The rotary agitators are motors that rotate the tubes for you (to ensure the chemicals are evenly spread over the paper, and don't exhaust). The link shows how you can do this as well by hand: http://mikecnichols.com/beseler/Beseler Color Print Processing Drums [Instructions].pdf
     
  24. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    How are you making the holes? You need to know how large the pinholes are (and how far they are from the paper) in order to determine the exposure time.

    Arista paper. It's different to Ilford but excellent quality; people do exhibitions on this paper and I have a few 16x20" prints on my walls made from it. The low pricing is a function of how it's imported in bulk and resold mostly unbranded.

    See also Kentmere: 25 sheets, 100 sheets. It costs between Arista and Ilford, is made by Ilford, and is much more sensitive, which makes it better for pinhole work.

    And Direct Positive paper. More expensive than normal Ilford paper, but the contrast should be better, and you don't need to use a separate sheet for both the pinhole exposure and the print. However, it's fibre-based paper which is much more difficult to process - you need additional chemicals and very long washing times.
     
  25. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Oh yes that is a great idea for this project! Red safelight should be real easy to find. One sheet needed per student instead of two! Or you could let them try twice.
     
  26. clothesontheline

    clothesontheline Member

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    Thats just the thing, I'm not exactly sure. I plan on using oatmeal boxes or other circular containers, maybe a paint can or two, etc. I already have 2 sites instructing on how to do it exactly: http://users.rcn.com/stewoody/makecam.htm and http://www.alternativephotography.com/wp/cameras-film/pinhole-photography-making-a-camera ... seem like good sources? other ideas? For the pinhole they all all suggest fine/very fine sewing needles (first mentioned #16, #15, and #14, so I'll see what I can do. Would my best bet be to test each one out individually beforehand and record the exposure times to get the right measurements? Can I cut the photo paper in strips for the tests so I dont waste paper?

    I'm not exactly convinced that direct positives will save me time or money... For starters, direct positives are going to require me to make an individual photo for each person, since I cant make copies of them. Plus that means that there will be around 25 different exposures, and there's no telling if 1/2 of them will turn out right the first time. Plus, at this point were only going to make probably around 5 pinhole cameras, so it would be difficult to keep going back and forth between kids using the same cameras, plus the photo paper is more expensive so I wouldn't have as much room for failure. Additionally, time and money are of the essence so additional chemicals and processing times would be a burden. Please let me know if these arguments are valid or flat. I'm not a pro at this type of thing, at least not yet.